Iodine—The Forgotten Antibiotic
Last night I got an urgent inquiry from a woman whose children had contracted a very uncomfortable stomach bug. One was sick a few days earlier and the other developed symptoms soon after, both of them with vomiting, diarrhea, and an aversion to food. Their doctor had diagnosed it as "gastritis," which basically means he doesn't have a clue what it was, as the term gastritis simply means inflation of the gastrointestinal system, and sent them home just as sick as when they had arrived.
In cases like this it is clear that the culprit is bacterial, since the body intuitively understands that pathogenic bacteria require nutrients to replicate and thus stimulates an actual aversion to food accompanied by vomiting and lethargy from an immune system which is working overtime. Normally doctors will prescribe antibiotics, and while antibiotics are often life-saving they also come with some serious side effects, wiping out good bacteria as well as the bad. A study I saw recently showed that conditions of SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) set in shortly after a course of antibiotics because the diminishment of short chain fatty acid producing bacteria altered the oxygen tension of the gut and allowed aerobic bacteria to move in (more on oxygen tension and the origins of SIBO are discussed in depth in my book, Fuck Portion Control).
Before antibiotics became widely available it was common to use iodine to treat these kinds of infections, because iodine RAPIDLY kills pathogenic bacteria. Some of us are familiar with the use of iodine to purify drinking water, which we then drink, but the idea of using it internally or as a supplement has fallen out of favor. I suggested she give her kids one drop of her 5% iodine solution in a little water (since a large volume might stimulate vomiting). One of the kids did vomit still even just from the water. She said they would try again in the morning, but when they woke up the child was feeling better already enough to try breakfast. The tiny amount of iodine even in water that was soon vomited back up was enough to have helped this kid turn the corner. But though I had mentioned the body's intuitive ability to avoid food consumption when infected with such bacteria, I didn't suggest they avoid eating and the sicker kid began feeling poorly again within a few hours. I asked her to try one more dose of iodine to see if she could keep it down this time. Three hours later she messaged me: "She's noticeably calmer and not in as much pain now. Thanks for your help Nathan!" By the evening her kid was almost totally well, and appears to have shortened the duration of the illness by several days (considering the other kid had been sick for a long time).
Iodine does have some side effects, if you've not taken it before it can produce a temporary hyperthyroid effect, which could even include losing some hair as the thyroid kicks in, because the energy demands are such that some stress reactions can occur, but at most this effect lasts a day or two and the endocrine system evens out very well and performs much better afterward as I discuss in my book, since the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, breasts, testicles, immune system, etc., all use very significant amounts of iodine (considering it is just a trace mineral) and having an iodine deficiency is one of the first and foremost contributors to the wide array of metabolic diseases that plague us as human beings.
Using iodine every day (or a larger amount every few days) has always propped up my health and metabolic rate, and using it in specific therapies such as I discuss in my book can further help to heal and repair frustrating metabolic problems. At the least it should be something kept in every medicine cabinet to help treat those bugs that are so easily treated. Best of all, iodine only kills pathogenic bacteria, so it leaves our good ones intact and thus avoids one of the most common complications of antibiotic use.
UPDATE: two days later another of her children came down with the same terrifying bug (I say terrifying because she described her child waking from sleep, screaming). She had not given the rest of her family iodine as I had suggested, but did so and the third kid was on her way to being well within just a few hours.